Australia's cathedral deans call for prevention of further abuse after Royal Commission

An abuse victim holds a placard outside the venue for Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney, Australia, in a picture taken earlier this year.Reuters

The deans of Australia's cathedrals have collectively expressed their regret at the damage caused by clergy and other church officials after hearing reports at their annual conference about the country's Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In a joint statement issued from the conference, the deans called for "a process of healing and the prevention of future abuse" as well as public repentance from those involved in carrying out sexual abuse.

At the close of the gathering at St James' Cathedral in Townsville, North Queensland, the deans said they had "reported on safeguarding measures in their own cathedrals, affirmed the importance of public acknowledgement and repentance for past wrongs, and the need for transparency and openness of conversation to enable a process of healing and the prevention of future abuse."

The Dean of Darwin, Keith Joseph, said more should be done for victims. "Our national Church needs to do more and move quickly on issues of redress for victims, recognising that we are one Body of Christ and therefore together are responsible." he said. "We give thanks for the work of the national Royal Commission and commend the newly appointed Royal Commission looking into issues in the Northern Territory."

The Royal Commission has been hearing a series of graphic and highly disturbing examples of sexual abuse in the church. In a recent hearing, a devastating story of mass child rape emerged, perpetrated by an Anglican paedophile ring.

The commission heard of the crimes perpetrated by Rev Peter Rushton, an Anglican priest who was Archdeacon of Maitland and who died in 2007.

His catalogue of child rape and abuse was finally exposed by an ABC investigation. He led a paedophile ring involving other clergy and lay people from the Newcastle diocese over as many as four decades.

Rushton's godson, Paul Gray, told how he was taken to St Alban's School for Boys in Hunter Valley. This was the 1960s, and boys would be raped by groups of men in a locked room, according to Daily Mail Australia.

Gray, who was first raped by Rushton when he was just ten years old, wept in the witness box as he testified to being abused alone and in groups of boys, in the boys' school and on church camps. Rushton would even use a knife to cut his back and then smear his body with the blood which he said was "symbolic of the blood of Christ", the Mail said.